The source of power
As a graduate of the Elizabeth Boys Technical High School in the 1960s, I can fully appreciate both the gender issues and the economic disadvantages of not attending an elite private school. That said, Mike Seccombe’s “The children of gods: how power works in Australia” (March 13-19) still left me with a profound sense of futility. For ordinary young people starting out on their education and careers, it must also create a strong sense of resentment. For those of us who are older, it goes to the nub of the vacuity we have always seen in our politicians and leaders. I’ve always had an inkling of where the power really lies in Australia, but having it laid out so succinctly is very disturbing.
– Philip Fitzpatrick, Tumby Bay, SA
Stark political reality
As intensely partisan and hierarchical political institutions that typically pursue electoral success above all else, it isn’t surprising that some political parties, particularly the more authoritarian, often run afoul of liberal democratic desiderata such as fairness, impartiality, honesty, transparency et cetera, that their nations may have sincerely embraced in more innocent times. While the Wizard of Oz’s fraud may once have been exposed behind the curtain, the theatre management now seems determined to turn off the lights.
– John Hayward, Weegena, Tas
Children need protection
Digital Rights Watch is correct to say consultation on the Online Safety Bill has been unnecessarily rushed (Lizzie O’Shea and Lucie Krahulcova, “Treated like children”, March 13-19). However, the need for powers to rein in multinational technology corporations is long overdue. Online corporations have failed to provide a safe environment for people using their platforms. The Canadian Centre for Child Protection found 10 per cent of content host businesses take more than 11 days to remove child sexual abuse material when asked to do so. Some will also contest the removal of such material. There is a need for the regulator to have flexible powers. For example, my daughter with autism watches Dora the Explorer videos online. Adults target children watching such videos with videos containing explicit sexual content. It is reasonable for the law to be able to force the removal of such content where a business refuses to do so voluntarily.
– Mark Zirnsak, Parkville, Vic
Sami Shah (Gadfly, “Markle sparkles on racism debacle”, March 13-19) is yet to meet anyone who admits to being racist – let me be the first. I am under no illusion of not knowing the privilege my skin colour, sex and mother tongue have given me. I am well aware of my implicit fear of dark skin and strangers and the tendency to classify people by gender and race stereotypes. Does knowing this help? Yes and no. I can reflect and adjust my unjust responses, but apparently I cannot stop them at the source. A cultural shift requires a many-layered approach, beginning with parenting, mixing with others, calling out racism and sexism and a pluralistic philosophy of cosmopolitanism.
– Neil Cradick, Mons, Qld
The political events of the past few weeks, especially in the week ending March 14, reinforced my already rather negative opinion of Australia’s alleged leader. When there is good news to announce, such as the remarkable economic bounce-back from the Covid-19 recession, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is eager to bask in the media spotlight and face the cameras. When trouble is brewing, such as the sports rorts affair, the Leppington Triangle land value “anomaly”, and now the Christian Porter alleged rape scandal, Mr Morrison is nowhere to be seen – until public pressure forces him out of hiding. As I see it, Scott Morrison is simply a salesman, and being prime minister gives him ample opportunity to sell himself and his achievements. However, the astounding landslide win by the West Australian premier, Mark McGowan, on Saturday may well leave the PM feeling rather vulnerable.
– Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin, ACT
Supply and demand
Peter Barry’s letter (“Stolen lands returned”, March 13-19) focuses on Bruce Pascoe’s heartfelt call for a “respectful agricultural world in 2030”; and Peter’s regret that it “sadly will not come to pass” due to cost-cutting supermarket chains and other negative conditions. I usually agree with Barry’s letters, but this time I’m more optimistic than him that farmers worldwide may be able to farm in healthier ways. This renewal is very likely here where this type of farming can be connected also to the coming national reconciliation. I do think Bruce’s farming of organic native grains and yams will spread to others and thrive – it’s too all-round good to fail. Of course, it will require enthusiastic marketing to independent businesses and customers willing to pay more for healthy, local, delicious products. For readers, Bruce Pascoe’s amazing book Dark Emu: Aboriginal Australia and the Birth of Agriculture (2018, new edition) is full of the tragic historical details and the recent more hopeful ones.
– Barbara Fraser, Burwood, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on March 20, 2021.
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